The Boys Bump-starting the Hearse (1983)

Kit Wright

The hearse has stalled in the lane overlooking the river
Where willows are plunging their heads in the bottle-green water
And bills of green baize drakes kazoo.
The hearse has stalled and what shall we do?

The old don comes on, a string bag in his strongbox.
He knows what is known about Horace but carries no tool-box.
Small boys shout in the Cambridge sun.
The hearse has stalled and what’s to be done?

Lime flowers drift in the lane to the baskets of bicycles,
Sticker the wall with yellow and powdery particles.
Monosyllabic, the driver’s curse.
Everything fires. Except the hearse

Whose gastric and gastric whinnies shoot neutered tom cats
In through the kitchen flaps of back gardens where tomtits
Wizen away from the dangling crust.
Who shall restart the returned-to-dust?

Shrill and sudden as birds the boys have planted
Their excellent little shoulders against the lamented
Who bumps in second. A fart of exhaust.
On goes the don and the holocaust.

Learn more about the language of this poem in the
Oxford English Dictionary:

lamented  holocaust